Pinches and Dashes | French Toast and the Sleep Regression Blues

Amanda and I strategized our middle of the night wakings in the months before the baby came. We would both get up – yay teamwork! – and there would be diaper changes and comfortably seated nursing, and Amanda suggested that we really needed treats, like marshmallows and m&m’s.

These seemed like lovely plans, and when I look back on those discussions, it’s with the fond nostalgia of a simpler time.

Because what happened was not that. There were no marshmallows and m&m’s. We were too tired to charge up on sugar in the middle of the night. I had to go to the chiropractor because I sat, too often, slumped over in my bed in the dark to nurse the baby in the middle of the night. The only way we changed him was if he pooped because, holy blowouts, Batman, it was necessary.

And gradually, the night wakings became a solo act, once the baby moved to his own room. I went, I nursed, I shushed, and usually, I was able to get the boy back down without waking Amanda.

Those were the good ol’ days.

Remember that sleep regression I mentioned a few weeks ago. So, it got worse. So much worse. But that’s because the Little Sous Chef started crawling and is trying to pull up on things and is generally figuring out that he’s a free agent in the world.

He really likes to think on these new truths of his life for about two hours in the middle of the night. Does he want to reflect in solitude? Oh, no. He needs a mama to think with him. He needs to thrash and roll and flop around. We all have to reach our breaking point. He has to cry, I have to cry, Amanda has to be the reasonable one who intervenes, and Otis has to be banished to another room because OH MY GOD I CAN ONLY HANDLE ONE CLINGY BABY AT A TIME.

There’s a cycle that most people recognize and observe:  wake, breakfast, forge ahead into the day. You can do so because you had your coffee and breakfast and perhaps a glass of OJ. You’ve read through your Facebook feed, gotten suitably wound up about the craptastic state of the world, and it’s time, now, to go about the day.

But when you’re battling that sleep regression blues, the cycle must circle back. The battle breaks in the early evening, and it becomes time to breakfast again, and then sleep until the baby flops his way into his nighttime frenzy.

So I offer to you, this week, our breakfast-for-dinner of champions:  French toast.

French toast is so simple, and yet, in my mind, it’s this whole thing. There’s a custard. There’s soaking of bread. Ugh, I need special bread. Screw it. Do we have any Pop Tarts? We can butter them and be fancy.

But the thing is, it’s so easy and so worth it. I mixed eggs, whole milk, vanilla, sugar, and a pinch of salt. A dash of cinnamon. (So many of the best recipes are comprised of pinches and dashes. You feel your way along. Kind of like parenting. Or, you know, anything in life.) Whisk it all together until it’s smooth – no globs of yolk or white to harden up on you.

I’ve been jamming on these knotted egg rolls from my grocery store bakery lately – they make a much more contained sandwich than the giant slices of sourdough we have, and when I pulled them out for lunch the other day, I thought, these would make bonkers good French toast.

I was right.

Soak the bread a minute or two while you heat a griddle. Or a cast-iron skillet. Melt some butter on it. (Full disclosure:  I ran out of butter. Canola oil slicked over the surface worked too.)

(Look at those splatters on the counter. Y’all remember when I used to have my shit together and I’d wipe the counter before I took pictures? Good times, right?)

Fry up each side of the bread for a few minutes until golden brown and perfect. Add butter, warm syrup, and slice up an orange so you can feel like you’re being healthy. Bid the sun goodbye with bright oranges, and everything really does come full circle.

And while French toast doesn’t make the sleep regression blues any easier to take, it does provide a warm, crispy, rich break before all hell breaks loose. Which helps. Just a little.


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